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San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club

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The SLOBC is committed to safe cycling by enabling cyclists to feel comfortable and empowered to help each other be safer and better riders. The focus is on improving situational awareness and bicycle skills. The goal is to have everyone looking out for each other.

Safety begins with the individual cyclist. It is a product of the rider’s attitude, behaviors and skills. It is a long term commitment to learning and being aware of your surroundings at all times.

Let those you ride with know that if you do something unsafe, you want to know. When you see other riders being unsafe, talk with them. When you see other riders exhibiting safe cycling, compliment them. If you can help another cyclists improve their skills, help them.


Safe Cycling Best Practices

The following best practices assume an understanding of how cyclists should use the roadway to keep themselves safe and communicate their intentions to drivers. The video "Understanding Cyclists' Position on the Roadway" provides this base understanding.

  1. Ride in bike lanes when available
    • If clear, move into the road when the bike lane contains hazards
    • If clear, move into the road to pass another bike
    • Ride two abreast if desired when bike lane width permits
  2. Ride as far to the right on roads as practicable
    • Ride on a road's shoulder when adequately wide and safe
    • Ride two abreast if desired when the shoulder width permits
    • If clear, move left as required to avoid hazards
    • If clear, move left to pass another vehicle/bicycle
    • Control the lane when it would be dangerous to be passed
    • Control the lane to make a left turn
    • Move left to avoid a right turn conflict—create a diverging not crossing condition
    • Control the lane as desired if you are moving at the normal speed of traffic
    • Use next available turnout or area to let backed-up traffic of five or more vehicles to pass
    • Ride two abreast if desired on roads with light or intermittent traffic
  3. Obey traffic laws—Bicycles are legal vehicles
    • Always ride on the right side of the road—ride with traffic
    • Always stop at red lights
    • Always honor all right-of-ways at intersections—vehicles, bicycles and people
  4. Call out approaching vehicles: "Car Up;" "Car Back"
    • Move right as practicable to permit vehicles to pass
    • If riding two abreast, move into single file to permit vehicles to pass: left/inside rider accelerates and right/outside rider slows slightly to create gap for left rider
  5. Use hand signals and reinforce verbally
    • Hand down and call out "Slowing" or "Stopping"
    • Point left or right and call out "Turning"
    • Point to obstacles in the road and call out "Glass," "Hole," "Bump," etc.
    • Repeat signals you receive for riders behind you
  6. Pass other bicycles and pedestrians on the left and call out "On Your Left"
  7. Be Predictable—no sudden moves
    • Hold your line and speed
    • Look and hand signal before making changes
  8. Be Alert and Aware—Continuously scan your surroundings
    • Look through/beyond the riders ahead of you
    • Use a rear view mirror to see riders and vehicles behind you
    • Maintain enough space around yourself so you can respond to the unexpected
    • Never overlap your front wheel with the back wheel of the rider ahead
    • Anticipate potential problems
  9. Be Visible—Assume you are invisible
    • Use bike lights
    • Wear bright or light colors
    • Make eye contact with drivers
  10. Leave the road or bike lane completely when stopping—don't hinder the progress of other cyclists or vehicles
  11. No one lost or left behind during group rides—take care of each other
    • Keep the rider behind you in sight—the next-to-last rider is the last rider's buddy
    • Wait or return for riders lost from sight
    • Communicate problems to other riders: e.g., call out "Flat"
    • Stay with a rider that has to stop
  12. Be courteous at all times and acknowledge courteous behavior
  13. Encourage others to follow "Safe Cycling Best Practices"

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Group Cycling Best Practices

Group riding best practices are based on the preceding "Safe Cycling Best Practices" with additions and elaborations unique to riding in groups.

  1. Never do anything suddenly or without warning
    • Ride in a straight line at a consistent and predictable pace
    • Always give plenty of warning if you are going to move sideways, slow or stop
    • Make sure you are clear of other riders before you stop
  2. Give yourself space and a path relative to the rider ahead
    • Ride far enough behind to provide appropriate reaction time
    • Ride off center of the rider in front to provide an escape route and sight line
  3. Keep your head up, watch the rider in front of you and check down the road, constantly
    • Look over the shoulder, under the arm or through the legs of the riders in front of you—ride pro-actively instead of reactively
    • If you talk—skip the eye contact—keep your eyes ahead
    • Back off from the rider ahead when approaching a climb, climbing or descending
    • Give erratic riders more space—protect yourself now—talk with them later
  4. Call out "On Your Left" or ring your bell when passing other group members
    • Move right to let group members pass
    • Weaker riders should stay right so stronger riders can pass or accelerate ahead when moving into single file (left/inside rider accelerates and right/outside rider slows slightly to create gap for left rider)
    • Move right and signal (elbow flick) if you want group members to pass you
    • Move to the back of the group to drink water, spit or blow your nose
    • Don't struggle to hold you place in the group—it will cause you to ride erratically
  5. When in the front, you are responsible for the safety and cohesion of the group behind you
    • Keep your head up at all times
    • Do not talk with others while in the front
    • Point out road hazards in time for those behind to avoid them and pass the signal on
    • If the group needs to slow down, signal and shout out a warning, “light up”, “car up”, etc., in time for those behind to respond and pass the signal on
    • Anticipate stoplight changes to get the entire group through the intersection safely
    • Startup, round corners and hold or change pace to maintain group cohesion
  6. During SLOBC group rides, there are times when some participants decide to draft each other—ride 6" to 36" behind the rear wheel of the rider ahead. Participate in drafting only if:
    • It does not endanger group riders who are not participating
    • You understand and are willing to assume the added risk
    • All riders involved know and agree to what is occurring
    • You trust the other riders and know they are knowledgeable, smooth and consistent
    • You never let your wheels overlap
    • You will stop drafting when you feel the situation is unsafe

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No One Left Best Practices

Nothing feels worst than having a problem or not knowing the route and realizing that no one is in sight. Nothing feels better than seeing riders return to find you or waiting for you when you round a bend. The following techniques are an elaboration on item 11 under "Safe Cycling Best Practices" and can be used separately or in combination to insure that no one on a group ride is lost or left behind.


Establish locations or distances to points where the group will stop and wait for everyone to arrive. Consider the following in establishing regroup points:

  • Regroup at places with room to gather completely off the road
  • Regroup after conditions that might cause group separation—at the top of a climb or after a series of intersections
  • Regroup at time intervals—every half hour
  • Regroup at distance intervals—every ten miles

Proceed once everyone has arrived and allowed time to recover.

When appropriate, send two riders back to find those missing so one can stay and the other can report back to the group.


A rider providing sweep should know the route and always keep the slowest rider in sight.

One approach is for the ride leader to be the sweep—to lead from behind.


Buddies stay together—within sight—throughout a ride. There are three approaches to implementing buddies:

  • All riders buddy with another rider
  • An experienced rider buddies with each new rider
  • The next-to-last rider automatically becomes the last rider's buddy.

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Be Prepared

Riders should always be prepared for typical problems that they may face while riding. It is expected that every participant in a SLOBC ride with have the essentials with them. Ride leaders should carry both the essentials and the desirables.

Essential Supplies

  • Fully Charged Cell Phone: Have the ride leader's cell phone number on your phone. Share phone numbers at the beginning of a ride to be able to contact each other in case of separation. Consider setting up a Find Friends tracking app on your phone to be able to locate other riders. Dial 911 or if a cell phone has no carrier coverage, Dial 112 to connect with any available carrier.
  • Tube: One is essential but two are better.
  • Tire Levers (2 or 3): It is very difficult to get most road tires off without tire levers however, most tires can be put on without a tire lever.
  • Pump: Make sure it can easily pump your tires up to the desired pressure.
  • Patch Kit: For those bad days when multiple flats occur.
  • Boot or Duct Tape: To repair a tire enough to get home. The boot or duct tape can be placed inside the tire. Wrap a small portion of duct tape around a section of pencil or dowel.
  • Multi-Tool: A multi-tool should have everything you need to make adjustments and simple repairs to your bike. A multi-tool with a chain break is desirable.
  • Water: Every rider should carry water appropriate for the ride. Consider temperature, difficulty and distance in determining the quantity. Plain water is also good to clean scrapes.

Desirable Supplies

  • Multi-Tool: A multi-tool with a chain break.
  • Master Link: In case your chain breaks during the ride. Ride leaders should carry master links for 9, 10 and/or 11 speed chains.
  • Chain Hook: A length wire (coat hanger) with a hook at either end to hold the chain while inserting a master link.
  • Tweezers: To remove debris from tires. Small knife might work.
  • Surgical Gloves: Keep your hands clean during dirty repairs.
  • Lightweight Jacket: Allows you to respond to weather changes.
  • Toilet Paper: For those special days.

First Aid Related

  • Install the American Red Cross First Aid Mobile App on your phone
  • Heart Monitor: It provides important information to help you assess how you are doing.
  • Sunscreen: Especially for long rides.
  • Small Pillbox:
    Aspirin: Chew in the case of a Heart Attack
    Diphenhydramine (Benadryl): Take for Bee Stings
    Pain Re-leaver: Carry a few of your favorite pain relievers (Tylenol, Advil, Aleve)